How to Market Healthcare Services – What Works? What Doesn’t? An Easy Guide for Newcomers

We’re dealing with a very different healthcare industry today. It’s changed considerably, even from the one we knew just a few years ago. In a shifted landscape of healthcare, where digital transformation and patient care meet, marketing has become a vital pulse for clinic owners seeking to thrive. The shift is profound, especially as we navigate the remnants of a global pandemic that utterly reshaped the healthcare industry.

how to market healthcare services - The Brains
March 7, 2024
how to market healthcare services - The Brains10 mins to read
how to market healthcare services - The Brains

In the wake of COVID-19, healthcare services are not only about providing exceptional patient care but also about effectively communicating it to a broader audience. Clinic owners face the challenge of standing out in a crowded digital arena, where patients increasingly turn to online channels for healthcare information and services.

“The virtual waiting room is as crucial as the physical one. Mastering it requires more than just clinical expertise.”

– Jonathan Lemer, The Brains Marketing Co-Founder

Executing an effective marketing strategy has become the cornerstone of success, allowing healthcare providers to not only weather the challenges posed by the pandemic but also thrive in an era where patients are more discerning and digitally connected than ever before.

From the nuances of reputation management to the intricacies of SEO for healthcare, the journey towards boosting patient acquisition is paved with strategic, data-driven initiatives.

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Healthcare, Marketing, & How We Got Here

The state of the union between healthcare and marketing mirrors the evolution of patient care in the digital age. In the not-so-distant past, healthcare services relied primarily on word of mouth and traditional advertising.

However, the continuing rise of the digital era has transformed the landscape, ushering in an era where patients actively seek and evaluate healthcare options online.

The COVID-19 pandemic acted as a catalyst, accelerating the adoption of digital technologies in healthcare marketing. As clinics adapted to telemedicine, patients embraced virtual consultations, and the importance of a robust online presence became paramount. The pandemic highlighted the necessity for healthcare providers to meet patients where they are – online.

And the transformation brought challenges and opportunities alike.

While clinics faced the task of navigating new digital channels, they also gained the ability to connect with patients on a broader scale. Patients now turn to search engines and social media to find healthcare information, making the case for a strong online presence, frankly, unignorable.

The Importance of (Digital) Marketing in Healthcare

Having a strong digital presence is synonymous with visibility. Healthcare providers must meet patients where they are, providing a wealth of information and fostering engagement through digital channels.

The fact is, modern patients are proactive in seeking healthcare information online. Marketing serves as a conduit for patient education, empowering individuals to make informed decisions about their health, from blog content to search engines to social media campaigns.

Moreover, it plays a vital role in enhancing the overall patient experience (PX) through clear communication, appointment reminders, and educational materials.

Healthcare is as competitive as it’s ever been, with various providers vying for patient attention. Chances are, you’ve noticed a surge in the quality or quantity (or both) of competition lately; marketing strategies differentiate clinics, helping them stand out in a saturated market.

how to market healthcare services - The Brains

How to Market Healthcare Services: Developing Your Strategy

Crafting a successful healthcare marketing strategy is a nuanced effort that requires a careful blend of industry knowledge and digital acumen.

With 100 billion searches for healthcare performed on Google each year – 70,000 per minute – the incentive is clear. New business opportunities are rife, but to tap into them, you’ll need a robust strategy that resonates with both current and potential patients.

Setting Marketing Objectives

What It Means:
Setting marketing objectives involves defining clear, measurable goals that align with your clinic’s overall mission. Objectives provide a roadmap for the marketing team, outlining what success looks like and guiding efforts toward specific outcomes.

How To Do It:
Collaborate with your marketing team to establish SMART objectives—Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Whether aiming to increase patient appointments, enhance online visibility, or improve patient satisfaction, each objective should be clearly defined.

Things To Remember:
Regularly revisit and reassess marketing objectives to ensure they align with your clinic’s evolving priorities. Flexibility is key, allowing adjustments to objectives based on performance data and shifts in the healthcare landscape.

Identifying Your Target Audience

What It Means:
Identifying a target audience involves understanding the demographic, psychographic, and behavioural characteristics of the patients the clinic aims to serve. This knowledge is foundational for crafting tailored marketing messages and strategies.

How To Do It:
Conduct thorough market research to gather insights into patient preferences, behaviours, and needs. Use data analytics tools, patient surveys, and feedback mechanisms to create detailed personas representing the clinic’s ideal patients.

Things To Remember:
Target audience identification is an ongoing process. As healthcare trends evolve and patient demographics shift, regularly reassess and update target audience profiles to ensure marketing efforts remain relevant and effective.

Analysing Competitors in the Healthcare Sector

What It Means:
Competitor analysis involves evaluating other healthcare providers in the same geographical area or specialising in similar services. Understanding competitor strengths and weaknesses informs strategic decisions and helps identify unique selling points for the clinic.

How To Do It:
Conduct a comprehensive assessment of competitor websites, social media presence, patient reviews, and services offered. Identify gaps in the market, areas where competitors excel, and potential opportunities for differentiation.

Things To Remember:
Competitor analysis should not be a one-time activity. Regularly monitor competitor activities and adapt marketing strategies accordingly. Focus on what sets the clinic apart to create a distinctive value proposition in the competitive healthcare landscape.

how to market healthcare services - The Brains

Key Marketing Channels for Healthcare Services

Leveraging a mix of digital channels is paramount for reaching and engaging diverse audiences. Clinic owners have a wealth of options at their disposal, each serving a unique purpose in amplifying their healthcare services.

For instance, a clinic may use social media to share success stories, health tips, and community events, while investing in local SEO to attract nearby patients actively seeking healthcare providers in their area, and simultaneously run targeted ads during flu season, promoting their expertise in paediatric flu vaccinations.

It’s this considered blend of healthcare marketing channels that holds the secret for success. Let’s explore the highest-ROI channels available to the modern clinic.

Social Media for Healthcare

Social media has emerged as a powerful tool for healthcare providers to connect with patients, share valuable information, and build a strong online presence. However, navigating the nuanced landscape of social media for healthcare requires a thoughtful approach.

By focusing on building a supportive online community and providing valuable information, healthcare providers can successfully harness the potential of social media to connect with patients and promote overall wellness.

Social Media For Healthcare

What Works?

  1. Educational Content: Share informative content that educates patients about health conditions, preventive measures, and wellness tips. A clinic can create engaging visuals or short videos to simplify complex medical information.
  2. Community Engagement: Foster a sense of community by encouraging patient interaction. Hosting Q&A sessions, live chats with healthcare professionals, or patient success stories can humanise the clinic and strengthen patient-provider relationships.
  3. Health Awareness Campaigns: Raise awareness about specific health issues or events. Your clinic can participate in health-related awareness months, sharing relevant content and encouraging followers to prioritise their well-being.
  4. Timely Updates: Keep patients informed about clinic updates, new services, or changes in operating hours. Timely communication enhances transparency and helps build trust with the community.

What Doesn’t?

  1. Privacy Violations: Avoid sharing patient-specific information or violating privacy regulations. Respect patient confidentiality and adhere to regulations such as HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) guidelines to maintain the trust and integrity of the healthcare provider.
  2. Medical Advice Without Context: Refrain from offering medical advice without proper context or examination. Social media should not replace personalised consultations.
  3. Overlooking Negative Feedback: Ignoring or responding defensively to negative comments can harm the clinic’s reputation. Instead, address concerns professionally and proactively.
  4. Inconsistent Branding: Maintain a consistent brand image across social media platforms. Inconsistencies in messaging or branding can lead to confusion among patients. A cohesive and professional online presence reinforces the clinic’s credibility.

SEO For Healthcare

By adopting SEO best practices tailored to the healthcare industry, clinics can improve their online visibility, attract more patients, and establish themselves as authoritative sources in their respective specialties.

SEO For Healthcare

What Works?

  1. Local SEO Optimisation: Prioritise local search optimisation to ensure the clinic appears prominently in local search results. Optimise your Google Business Profile with accurate information, including address, contact details, and business hours.
  2. Keyword Research and Implementation: Conduct thorough keyword research to identify terms relevant to your clinic’s services. Implement these keywords naturally into website content, meta tags, and headings to improve rankings.
  3. Quality Content Creation: Develop high-quality, informative content that addresses patient queries, concerns, and healthcare topics. Well-researched blog posts, articles, and FAQs contribute to a robust online presence and enhance authority in the healthcare niche.
  4. Mobile Optimisation: Ensure that the clinic’s website is mobile-friendly. Google prioritises mobile-responsive sites, and a positive user experience on mobile devices can positively impact search rankings.

What Doesn’t?

  1. Keyword Stuffing: This involves excessively using keywords in content with the sole aim of manipulating search engine rankings. This can result in penalties and harm your reputation.
  2. Ignoring Local Citations: Overlooking consistent local citations across online directories can hinder local search visibility. Ensure that business information is accurate and consistent across platforms like Yelp, Healthgrades, and other relevant directories.
  3. Neglecting User Experience: A poor website experience, such as slow loading times or confusing navigation, can negatively impact SEO. Prioritise a user-friendly website design to enhance the overall patient experience and satisfy search engine algorithms.
  4. Ignoring Technical SEO Aspects: Neglecting technical SEO, such as meta tags, schema markup, and proper site structure, can hinder search engine performance. Addressing these technical elements contributes to better SEO outcomes.

PPC For Healthcare

Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising is a valuable tool in the healthcare marketer’s arsenal, allowing clinics to reach their target audience through targeted, paid online advertising. However, successful PPC campaigns in the healthcare industry do require some craft.

Get PPC right, and you’ll see enhanced online visibility, attract potential patients, and achieve measurable results in patient acquisition and retention. Get it wrong, though, and you’ll have achieved little more than a black hole that returns, at best, inconsistent results.

PPC For Healthcare

What Works?

  1. Strategic Keyword Selection: Conduct thorough keyword research to identify relevant terms and phrases. Focus on keywords that reflect your specialties, treatments, and services to target a more qualified audience.
  2. Compelling Ad Copy: Craft engaging, informative ad copy that speaks directly to the needs and concerns of potential patients. Highlight unique selling points, such as specialised services, experienced healthcare professionals, or convenient locations.
  3. Landing Page Relevance: Ensure the landing pages linked to PPC ads are highly relevant to the ad content. The landing page should provide clear information, a strong CTA, and an easy path for users to book appointments.
  4. Geo-Targeting: Leverage geo-targeting capabilities to focus PPC campaigns on specific areas relevant to your patient base. This ensures ads reach those individuals most likely to become patients.

What Doesn’t?

  1. Ignoring Ad Extensions: Neglecting ad extensions limits the effectiveness of PPC campaigns. Ad extensions provide additional information (such as location, phone number, or site links) that enhances visibility and relevance.
  2. Neglecting Negative Keywords: Failure to identify and incorporate negative keywords can lead to irrelevant clicks and wasted ad spend. Implementing negative keywords helps filter out traffic that is unlikely to convert into patients.
  3. Poorly Designed Landing Pages: If the landing page does not align with the expectations set by the ad, users may bounce. Invest in well-designed and user-friendly landing pages to maximise conversions.
  4. Ignoring Quality Score: Quality Score, a metric used by PPC platforms like Google Ads, impacts ad placement and CPC. Disregarding factors that contribute to a high-quality score, such as ad relevance and landing page experience, can result in suboptimal performance.

Content Marketing For Healthcare

Content marketing in the healthcare industry is pivotal for establishing trust, educating patients, and positioning the clinic as an authoritative source in its field. Understanding the types of content that resonate with potential patients is essential for a successful healthcare content strategy. Let’s explore what works and what doesn’t in healthcare content marketing.

Content Marketing For Healthcare

What Works?

  1. Educational Blog Posts: Create informative blog posts that address common health concerns, explain medical procedures, and offer tips for maintaining wellness. Educational content establishes the clinic as a valuable resource.
  2. Patient Success Stories: Share real-life success stories and testimonials from satisfied patients. These narratives humanise the healthcare experience, instilling confidence in potential patients and showcasing a positive impact.
  3. Interactive Content: Interactive content such as quizzes, assessments, or health calculators engage visitors, encourage participation, and provide personalised insights, enhancing the overall user experience.
  4. Video Content: Incorporate video content to convey complex medical information in a digestible format. Educational videos, virtual tours of the clinic, and interviews with healthcare professionals all work well.

What Doesn’t?

  1. Overly Technical Language: Avoid using overly technical language that may alienate or confuse the average reader. Strive for clear and concise communication.
  2. Ignoring Compliance: Healthcare content must adhere to privacy regulations. Neglecting compliance can result in legal issues and damage the clinic’s reputation.
  3. Neglecting Visual Appeal: Content that lacks visual appeal can be less engaging. Neglecting to incorporate visually appealing elements, such as images, infographics, or well-designed layouts, may lead to decreased reader interest.
  4. Disregarding Patient Questions: Failing to address common patient questions and concerns in content can leave potential patients feeling unheard or uninformed. Content should proactively address queries, providing valuable insights and building trust.

Website Design & Development For Healthcare

Both website design and development play a crucial role in shaping the online presence of healthcare clinics. A well-designed and functional website not only serves as a digital storefront, but also enhances the overall patient experience.

Web Design & Dev For Healthcare

What Works?

  1. User-Friendly Navigation: Prioritise a clean and intuitive website navigation structure. Users should easily find essential information such as services, contact details, and appointment scheduling.
  2. Mobile Responsiveness: Provide an optimal viewing experience across various devices, particularly on smartphones and tablets. Mobile responsiveness is critical for accommodating users who access healthcare information on the go.
  3. Appointment Scheduling Integration: Integrate a user-friendly and secure appointment scheduling system directly into the website. This convenience enhances patient accessibility and encourages individuals to take immediate action.
  4. Robust Security Measures: Implement robust security measures to safeguard patient information and adhere to privacy regulations. A secure website is crucial for maintaining patient trust and compliance with healthcare data protection standards.

What Doesn’t?

  1. Outdated Design: An outdated or, worse, unprofessional website design can undermine the credibility of the clinic. Modernise design to reflect your professionalism, expertise, and commitment to high-quality healthcare.
  2. Slow Page Load Times: Slow-loading pages can result in a poor user experience and higher bounce rates. Optimise performance by compressing images, leveraging browser caching, and minimising unnecessary scripts to ensure swift page load times.
  3. Lack of Accessibility Features: Neglecting website accessibility features can exclude individuals with disabilities from accessing crucial healthcare information. Ensure the website complies with accessibility standards, providing an inclusive experience for all users.
  4. Complex Forms: Lengthy or overly complex forms for appointment scheduling or contact can deter users from completing desired actions. Streamline forms, request only essential information, and provide clear instructions.

Email Marketing For Healthcare

Warm emailing involves reaching out to individuals who have already expressed interest in or engaged with the clinic’s services (such as existing patients or subscribers to newsletters), while cold email marketing means contacting users who have not previously interacted with your clinic.

Email Marketing For Healthcare

What Works?

  1. Educational Newsletters: Send informative newsletters that provide valuable healthcare insights, tips, and updates. Educational content positions the clinic as a trusted source of health information, fostering patient loyalty.
  2. Appointment Reminders: Send appointment reminders, pre-appointment instructions, and post-visit follow-ups. Timely and personalised communication enhances patient experience and engagement.
  3. Health and Wellness Tips: Share health and wellness tips tailored to your audience. Promote preventive care and healthy living, establishing the clinic as a partner in patients’ overall well-being.
  4. Patient Testimonials: Incorporate patient testimonials and success stories in email campaigns. Personal narratives resonate with recipients, instilling confidence in your clinic’s capabilities and fostering a positive perception.

What Doesn’t?

  1. Generic and Impersonal Content: Avoid sending generic or cut-and-paste emails. Tailor content to the recipient’s specific needs and preferences, demonstrating a personalised approach to patient communication.
  2. Overloading with Information: While informative content is valuable, avoid overwhelming recipients with excessive information. Keep emails concise, focused, and easy to digest.
  3. Ignoring Data Privacy: Neglecting data privacy and regulatory compliance, will lead to legal consequences. Ensure that email campaigns adhere to relevant privacy standards and obtain necessary consents.
  4. Lack of Mobile Optimisation: Many individuals access emails on mobile devices. Ensure emails are visually appealing and functional on various devices.
how to market healthcare services - The Brains

Managing Your Online Reputation

Whichever channels you decide to deploy, there’s one golden thread that runs through them all: your online reputation will play a pivotal role in attracting and retaining patients.

It’s important to regularly monitor online review platforms such as Google, Yelp, and healthcare-specific sites for feedback from patients. Respond promptly to both positive and negative reviews, demonstrating your clinic’s commitment to patient satisfaction.

Acknowledge positive reviews with gratitude, and address concerns raised in negative reviews with empathy and a commitment to resolution.

Similarly, it’s always worth encouraging satisfied patients to share their experiences through testimonials. Feature these testimonials on your clinic’s website and marketing materials to build trust and credibility.

Incorporate social proof, such as endorsements from reputable healthcare professionals, certifications, and awards, to bolster your clinic’s credibility. Transparently sharing achievements and accolades contributes to a positive public perception in the eyes of digital users.

Where Is Healthcare Marketing Going?

Healthcare marketing is evolving rapidly, driven by technological advancements, changing patient expectations, and the need for personalised and accessible healthcare services. As clinic owners to stay across relevant resources and stay ahead of emerging trends and innovations.

For instance:

  • Telehealth and Virtual Care: Offering convenient and accessible virtual consultations can enhance patient engagement and broaden the reach of healthcare services.
  • Personalisation and Patient-Centric Approaches: Tailoring marketing efforts to individual patient needs, preferences, and demographics will be crucial for building meaningful connections.
  • AI and Predictive Analytics: Predictive analytics can help identify potential patient needs, enabling clinics to proactively address health concerns and deliver targeted services.
  • Healthcare Influencer Marketing: Partnering with trusted voices in the healthcare industry can amplify your clinic’s reach, build credibility, and position your practice as a go-to.
  • Embracing Innovative Technologies: Be open to embracing innovative technologies such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) for enhancing patient experiences. These technologies can be employed for immersive patient education, virtual facility tours, and interactive content.

The Next Step

We’d encourage clinic owners to collaborate with growth-focused healthcare marketing specialists who understand the nuances of the industry and can navigate the complexities of emerging trends.

By staying informed, embracing innovation, and partnering with experts, clinics can position themselves at the forefront of healthcare marketing. Contact The Brains now to kick-start your growth journey.

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